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Eugène Ducretet

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Biography

Eugène Ducretet was born in Paris on November 27th 1844 to Louis Joseph, a merchant in textiles. His family was from Savoy and had moved to Paris at the end of the 18th century due to poor economic conditions. Between 1856-1859 he attended a primary school in Rue St. Jacques, where he showed proficiency in mathematics, geometry and drawing. At the end of the 1850s he was apprenticed to the workshop of Gustave Froment where he developed his manual skills and improved his scientific knowledge. In 1864, Ducretet opened his own workshop located at 21 rue des Ursulines and started with a small workforce to manufacture a wide range of classical physics research, teaching and demonstration apparatus. Ducret had a slow start but his reputation began to grow and he slowly became one of the largest instrument suppliers to several scientific and academic institutions in Paris. In 1866 Ducretet married Amelie Vallat, and they had three children.

In 1867 Ducretet published the first descriptive catalog of his products. While it had been impossible to complete his formal schooling, he was continuing his education, by attending courses at the Sorbonne and the College de France as an 'auditeur libre'. At the same time he benefitted from his relationships with many illustrious physicists, whom he considered 'ses maltres plutot que ses clients', for enhancing his knowledge in physics and electricity. In 1878 in time, in a Universal Exhibition. He was awarded a gold medal, which represented the first official recognition of his activity. The success was repeated in 1881, at the International Electricity Exhibition in Paris. In the following decades Ducretet regularly participated in the most important international exhibitions, where he always presented high-quality instruments. Around 1880 Ducretet needed more space for his firm, moved the workshop a few hundred meters away from its original location to 75, rue des Feuillantines.